Nancy von Breska-Ficović
The process of decomposition

Gunhild Tuschen is intrigued by the process of transformation, the change in texture and appearance of everyday perishable objects she chooses to observe during their cycle of life. In her studio she displays plants, fruit and food on wooden tables where over a long period she studies them closely, from time to time photographing and documenting their process of drying, perishing, withering or turning to dust.

This process is fascinating not only in terms of material change, but also in terms of revealing an opposite palette of subdued colours. As the apple, rose, tulip retreat, crumble, darken, dry out, they become something else altogether, alien and unrecognizable in their form and appearance to what they have previously been. As they transcend and finally die away, new life forms on them, and so the cycle begins anew.

The sentiment of creeping desperation in the eyes of death, a deeply human experience, it is the very reminder of our own short existence caught in Tuschen's photographs. Much like the Dutch Masters Vanitas still life's of the16th and 17th century, they are showing the transience of life and the certainty of death. Vanitas, which means 'emptiness', 'futility', or 'worthlessness', the traditional Christian view being that earthly goods and pursuits are transient and worthless, remind us of the clock ticking away and of what is clearly yet to come for all being on Earth.

Im Tod ist das Leben. I grew up with this thought. Death was a natural part of village life." Gunhild Tuschen

In Tuschen's work the living stage has already past, the shells of food and fruit are just a faint reminder of what they used to be. Following the process much further down in the life and death cycle, the living matter fades away and the object now turns to shades of green and grey. The step into another stage of being is already complete.

[is it what you see or do you see what it is, gunhild tuschen, line and colour, p349, Bremen 2021]

wijziging / veränderung, verwesung, decomposition

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